Terry McAuliffe has an F rating from the NRA. Yet he still won in red-state Virginia. How did it happen?
One reason is that Cuccinelli simply alienated too many voters with his socially conservative stances.
You might think those social issues overshadowed gun control, but actually gun rights took center stage late in the race - and McAuliffe still won.
What's even more surprising is that McAuliffe didn't try to protest that he's kinda gunny despite his F rating (as many a Democrat has done before him). Instead he embraced the F rating:
[At] the Oct. 24 candidate's debate at Virginia Tech, the site of the worst mass shooting by an individual in U.S. history. In response to a question, Cuccinelli boasted of his A rating from the NRA. And then McAuliffe did something surprising: He said he didn't give a fig about the powerful lobby's rating. And, oh, by the way, he had earned an F.Observers are stunned by how well this is panning out. "I don't think you've seen any Democratic candidate run in Virginia as rabidly anti-gun as McAuliffe has in the last two weeks," said David Adams, an NRA spokesman, to WaPo.
And recent polling showed that more Virginians supported McAuliffe's gun stances than Cuccinelli's:
Asked how Cuccinelli's opposition to expanded background checks factors into their vote, 47 percent said that position makes them less likely to vote for him, as opposed to 18 percent who said it made them more likely to do so. When told that McAuliffe favors prohibiting gun owners to carry guns on college campuses, 40 percent said that position makes them more likely to back him; 29 percent said it makes them less likely to do so.
Making McAuliffe's victory even more shocking is the fact that he faced down huge spending by the NRA supporting his opponent. In gun-friendly Virginia is the fact that the NRA poured half a million dollars into making sure everyone knew McAuliffe was a gun-grabber.
So, does McAuliffe's win signal that the NRA's infleunce is waning?
The jury is still out. The NRA's influence in Virginia might have been greater if they had spent more. They were vastly outspent by Bloomberg's Independence USA PAC, which dropped nearly $2.3 million in Virginia.